Can you believe it’s almost July?!

Yup…2023 is almost halfway over. I feel now is a good time to take a step back and review the Top 10 wish list I made at the beginning of the year and see what progress we’ve made on each item.

Here was my top 10, with current updates underneath each item:

  1. Progress towards a comprehensive transit referendum in 2024
    Progress is ongoing, we expect an initial project list to come out in Fall 2023 with a public engagement process leading to major milestones in January 2024
  2. More smart, “missing middle” housing throughout the county
    Nothing concrete yet, but there is great opportunity in the Unified Development Code, it was directly mentioned in the Strategic Plan, and many cities in Cobb are looking at this
  3. Developing a sustainability or resilience plan for the future
    Nothing concrete here yet, but there is continued talks for something in the near future
  4. Chattahoochee Riverlands Construction Starts
    Success! The star-studded ribbon-cutting for the Riverlands pilot was held in May
  5. More multi-use trails and bike lanes throughout the county
    Trails around Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park have been completed, Connect the Comet construction has started along Atlanta Road, Mountain to River Trail is soooooooo close, and both the Noonday Creek Trail and Austell-Powder Springs Trail continue to move forward.
  6. Improve transit experience NOW
    No concrete progress but the inclusion of Mobile Breeze 2.0 later this year will be a huge help.
  7. Smyrna launches local circulator service, more Braves transit to follow?
    It appears that the local circulator service Smyrna was considering is no longer in the plans. Braves service is still limited and under-marketed.
  8. Parking minimums are relaxed or abolished
    No progress here yet, but there is opportunity in the ongoing Unified Development Code
  9. Higher engagement from younger, more diverse voices at county meetings
    One victory was the positive response to the Strategic Code, but we still need to improve a lot with the Chairwoman publicly suggesting that more people need to show up
  10. Cobb becomes more competitive and aggressive with federal grants programs
    Unfortunately, our RAISE grant applications left a lot to be desired as they seem to be focused on roadway capacity increases on arterial roads

Overall, I say we’ve seen decent progress in some of the items on our wish list, with some improvement needed in other areas. The Unified Development Code will be a major opportunity to move this county forward.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, June 26th 6PM: A Better Cobb Local Huddle
  • Tuesday, June 27th 7PM: Cobb County Board of Commissioners Meeting
  • Tuesday, July 11th 9AM: Cobb County Board of Commissioners Meeting
  • Tuesday, July 25th 7PM: Cobb County Board of Commissioners Meeting

Board of Commissioners Preview

The next meeting is Tuesday, June 27th at 7PM at the BoC meeting room. At the last meeting, we saw a couple of new faces including Kevin, who used his e-bike to travel to the meeting! This is after Jeff attended a previous meeting using transit! So great to see!

This meeting is highlighted by Items no. 30 and 31, both of which are directly related to our focus on Safe Streets. The county is approving a Vision Zero goal (of zero deaths or serious injury by car crash) and the agenda packet includes the Safety Plan. I go into greater detail later in this issue.

Here’s a quick little rundown of the agenda:

  • 4 Presentations
    • These presentations will focus on a Girl Scout Troup receiving their Silver Award, designating June 15th as Elder Abuse Awareness Day, designating June 23rd as International Widows Day, and designating June 27th as HIV Testing Day
  • 2 Public Hearings (Unlimited # of speakers, up to 3 minutes each)
    • Contract fees exceeding $100,000 for a consultant to provide Facility Conditions Assessments for county-owned properties
    • Second public hearing for the zoning changes (these are procedural and required by the state)
  • Public Comment (first 6 people who sign up, 5 minutes max)
  • Consent Agenda
    • 1 Juvenile Court: Grants to support the Special Advocate Program
    • 1 Water System: Sewer Replacement
    • 2 Transportation
      • Modifying Purchase Order for 5 Paratransit Vehicles
      • Approval of Temporary Access Agreement for an Autonomous Vehicle Pilot using the Interstate 285 Pedestrian bridge
    • 2 Parks:
      • Authorize a grant agreement for a mini-soccer field at Wallace Park
      • Accepting $3.4 million in ARP funds to build improvements at Fair Oaks Park (Pickleball Courts, new Synthetic Turf, new walking paths) and a new park at 139 Booth Rd, Marietta that will have a focus on Cricket.
    • 5 Library System Grants:
      • FCC Emergency Connectivity Fund
      • ALA “Finding Your Voice” Grant
      • ALA “Deeper Than Our Skins” Grant
      • Iconic America Library Microgrant
      • State Georgia Public Library Service annual grants
    • Sustainability Waste and Beautification
      • Purchase of 2 new trucks
    • 2 Support Services Agency
      • Renewal of the School Bus Stop Arm Safety Camera Program
      • Parking Deck management and operations
    • Cobb Works
      • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Plan updates
  • Regular Agenda
    • County Manager
      • Approve a contract with Dentons for state and federal legislative consulting
    • District Attorney
      • Approve a contract to provide Child Support Services
    • Transportation
      • Multiple resurfacing contracts
      • A sidewalk/water project near Walton High School that is getting some press for the cost
      • Adopting a resolution “committing to a safety goal of zero deaths and serious injuries as a result of crashes on public roads in Cobb County”
      • Adopt a resolution authorizing the submission of a Safe Streets and Roads for all Grant Program
      • Agreements to support preliminary engineering design for Big Shanty Road Widening
  • Support Services
    • Sale of 3.789 acres located at 4600 Atlanta Road to Flournoy Development Group (purchase price is dependent on number of apartments built)
    • SPLOST project for Court Docket System
    • Public Safety Firing Range design/build contract (from SPLOST)

The Safety Action Plan: A Historic Moment

Item no. 30 includes the Safety Plan, which I have extracted and included at this link.

I am not overstating the importance of these items when I say they will save lives. By implementing this Safety Plan, setting a Vision Zero goal, and seeking Safe Streets For All funding for the Multi-Corridor Safety Improvement Project, we will see less deaths and injuries on the road.

This isn’t just a local issue, but we’re seeing an increase in deaths and serious injuries on our roadways throughout the country. This impact is even worse for pedestrians and bikers, our most vulnerable road users.

The Safety Plan is 46 pages long but is filled with some really good stuff. Is it perfect? No, but it has really great information and is the first time we are looking at the safety of our transportation system. I will do an entire review of this document in the next issue. I plan on speaking during public comment to support the Safety Action Plan.

I will also be mentioning during Public Comment the relocation of the Soccer field from the South Cobb Pocket Park to Wallace Park. This is a huge personal frustration, specifically because the county still has no plans for what to do with the South Cobb Pocket Park in lieu of the mini soccer pitch being moved. I hope to see a renewed plan that incudes improvements at South Cobb Pocket Park on South Service Road.

Launch of Cheers to Cobb

A leading East Cobb advocate and I have launched a video series called “Cheers to Cobb” which seeks to recap Commissioners meetings. We get together after meetings, press record, and discuss what we saw. Here’s a video of the latest meeting:

That’s a wrap for this issue!

I hope to see you at tonight’s A Better Cobb meeting and the Board of Commissioners meeting tomorrow night!

‘til next time!